Dangeous pitfall: accept, observe but do not dwell

mika's picture

Average: 4.6 (12 votes)

Maybe the top spiritual practice is to observe and accept what is.

In order to process a painful mental emotion, instead of suppressing it, we watch it, stop resisting it... this way it is supposed to disappear... or at least be there but we are not bothered anymore...

Sometimes we are doing exactly the above and yet the observed emotion is still there and our attitude towards it refuses to change... it sometimes even gets more powerful and painful... and we find ourselves even more affected and thus are suffering more due to this emotion.


It is usually because of a back-door mind trick. Without noticing, we have gone too far in our observation and actually have dwelt in the emotion. Instead of observing the emotion and letting it go, we have developed an attachment to the emotion and thus gave it extra strength, extra energy. The mind used the opportunity that we are observing the emotion in "daylight" to ground the emotion in our psyche, to pose its control using the time dimension. Instead of adhering to the rhythm of our emotional tempo, the mind sets a new tempo, it prolongs the duration of the emotion. Our observation is not pure. It is stained with control.

The way out of this mind trick is simple: you just need to bring the emotion to daylight, you do not need to "accompany" it anymore afterwards. Just bring it to awareness and turn to something else. Do not to dwell when you observe a painful emotion. You need to be very practical: accept, observe and turn to the next thing. Make sure that the pace of change of your emotions is not dictated by you but by what is. Release control over when the emotion arises and when it subsides. Release control completely. Just be a pure observer.

Accept, observe and then move away from the observation of the underlying emotion. Your subconscious intelligence will do the rest, you do not need to preoccupy yourself with this emotion anymore, you have done your part.

A good object of observation to switch to when you are done with the underlying emotion is your breath or the new what is - whatever now is the "what is".

Ohh the mind is so tricky :-)

Omkaradatta's picture

Tricky mind, tricky body

"Ohh the mind is so tricky :-)"

Only when we are interested in it, captivated by its contents. From here, the top two spiritual practices are always viveka/vairagya -- discrimination, and detachment/dispassion. And (fortunately or not), they are the least interesting practices to most folks. There's nothing there to capture us or entrance us... aside perhaps from a growing inner peace and fulfillment.

P.S. the 'way around' dwelling in emotion is to dwell in the "I AM", the Beingness, instead. This is a sensation connected with the body, just as emotion, and obviates our need for emotions (which 'give us a break' from thought, in a sense, thus their attractiveness).

It's a strange paradox that in identifying with the body, one identifies with the mind, because the body is a thought in the mind. The body is the 'gatekeeper' between confusion and reality, thus the sages' exortation "you are not the body". Nor do we perceive emotions happening 'in the body', we just perceive them. We have to think about the body in order for there to be a body.

When ideas contradict our direct experience (e.g. 'there is an independently existing body 'out there' in the world, and I am that self-same body'), those ideas have to be discarded as false. I do not experience my Self as a body, although the body is part of experience and is thus not different than the Self. I am certainly not an idea about anything, including an idea about a body being enclosed in a world.


Omkaradatta | Thu, 10/16/2008 - 21:25
madan_gautam's picture

Mind & body

Body is being controlled by mind & body has no control on it,but mind controls it, let it be conscious or subconscious or unconscious one,body never act independently. Then no question comes of tricky body,its only tricky mind who think i am superb and most of the seekers are in d illusion that they are on right path and can achieve even truth by their assumptions and their arguments.

madan_gautam | Fri, 10/17/2008 - 13:28
Phroggy's picture

Tricky body?? :)

In the largest context, both 'body' and 'mind' are thoughts arising now. We think of mind as the source of those thoughts, which only has some truth to it if we expand the idea of mind beyond the personal, and we think of the body as required in order for perception to happen, but that's just an idea that becomes a part of perceptual experience.

However, in the context of those concepts of mind and body, the two are not separate such that mind controls body. Although it's true that a thought will bring about a physical reaction, that physical reaction also influences thought. Physical sensations and feelings that seem to be associated with the body can totally dominate the thought processes. In this context, the body also keeps the 'mind' going as well as the reverse, so maybe the best we can say is that, while certain processes can be assigned to each, mind and body are not separate at all and one is not in control of the other.

Phroggy | Fri, 10/17/2008 - 18:36
seeker's picture

the wisdom is always in having the right balance

so true the observation in the post, be aware to whatever feeling which currently is but beware not to tacitly give it energy by sustaining it. Again, the art of spirituality, the art of combating the mind is not by discrimination and intellectual observations (which are easily being exploited by the mind for yet another trick) but by having the right balance, the right propotions.

I call it the stage of "ignore" thus the pair "accept and observe" is extended to "accept, observe and then ignore".

Indeed, so many of us fall in his delicate trap. we bring unconcious emotions to the concious level but then unnoticengly do not let them go. Painful as they are, we actually get attached to them as they turn to be part of our personality phantom which the mind fights to preserve.

seeker | Sun, 10/19/2008 - 12:53
Omkaradatta's picture

The art...

"the art of combating the mind is not by discrimination and intellectual observations (which are easily being exploited by the mind for yet another trick) but by having the right balance, the right propotions."

By saying the above, the mind is already exploiting things for a trick: If discrimination and intellectual observations are what is happening, they are not to be dismissed or minimized or belittled. There is really no art to this at all; it is about observation, reflection and clarity.

No 'combat' is involved -- fighting the mind merely gives it more power. Only the desire to remain unconscious has to go. The need for need, the desire for desire, the drama that makes up 'you'. One can meditate for a hundred years and never touch that, thus the potential usefulness of discrimination (viveka). Meditation in addition to that (dispassion, detachment, vairagya) can be a potent combination, one that has been 'time tested' for thousands of years in spirituality.


Omkaradatta | Tue, 10/21/2008 - 01:01
angel76's picture

Leave the recursive analysis

Leave the recursive analysis of "this is the mind talking about combating the mind" etc.). I feel you are not fare with yourself using too much intellectual analysis. This is for sure a trick of the mind.

When you try it, you will see that the essence of the art is to combat the mind in a creative way. In the standard way indeed you strengthen the mind (as you do in facing reality with theories and analysis) but at some point and in very delicate and sophisticated ways (sometimes needing a guidance of an experienced teacher) you can put a blow on the mind, you can stop thinking, you can change conditionings, you can combat the mind, this is done after a long time of meditations and observations of what is when the mind is weak. The outcomes are splendid and lasting (and I am talking only from personal experience). It is done in Yoga, it is done in Zen, it is done in Vipassana. It is not just combating the mind, it should be done cleverly, it is feasable. Don't waste your time, at least explore and try.

angel76 | Thu, 10/23/2008 - 13:05
Omkaradatta's picture

Quit complaining...

Everyone here seems to whine constantly about "too much intellectual analysis". I speak here from direct experience only. Nothing needs to be tried, because what's real here is already real. I think Phroggy posts in the same spirit. Stop analyzing posts -- it is intellectual analysis, a trick of the mind! You cannot know from what experience (or lack thereof) the author speaks. Stop telling others what to do, based on assumptions lacking completely in any information.

P.S. if you want to know why no advices are needed here, go to the top of the page, click on 'find your guru' and type in 'Omkaradatta'.


Omkaradatta | Thu, 10/23/2008 - 17:12
Phroggy's picture


What appears to be happening is that any practice that reinforces the existence of the practicer (all of them) is embraced fully, but any insight that questions the validity of the one practicing is unanamously dismissed.

What is the point of any practice? If it isn't focussed on seeing that there is no practicer, what is the objective? To formulate new ideas about the world 'out there'? There is no world out there. To control the mind? What is it that would control the mind, but the mind? To get rid of ego? Who is it who pretends to want to do that but ego?

what ego really wants to do is keep meditating and practicing for decades and then declare how successful all of it was. Yes, it was successful at avoiding the Truth for decades, right? Isn't that the whole idea, really, to keep from noticing what you pretend to be looking for? How many more decades of 'practice' could you potentially bypass by noticing that right now?

Phroggy | Thu, 10/23/2008 - 18:52
Omkaradatta's picture


The only practice I'd recommend here (aside from general self-enquiry) is to 'just be'. Yep, just sit there and stare at the wall for an indefinite period of time. This will likely bring up a whole host of thoughts, fears, desires, etc. that can be observed right away, brought into the light of awareness. In my view, Nisargadatta really had something with that one, although it's likely to be unattractive to all but a handful of folks. As for the rest of your reply, agreed...


Omkaradatta | Fri, 10/24/2008 - 09:41
Phroggy's picture


I agree, and really, self inquiry is a focus of awareness in a specific 'direction' and 'being' is just paying attention to whatever shows up, and both are essentially effortless and techniqueless. The moment either one is turned into a technique, mind is actively involved and noticing anything threatening likely goes out the window, or the mind can actively avoid noticing.

Phroggy | Fri, 10/24/2008 - 10:02
madan_gautam's picture

Path for Truth

Sorry to be here but as you said earlier that TRUTH is pathless & here you are suggesting the path,the path of staring at wall,this is one of the path among the thousands of path,then where is Truth without any path(pathless?)

madan_gautam | Sat, 10/25/2008 - 06:31
Omkaradatta's picture


It depends what you define as a "path". Obviously, actions are going to happen, people are going to do things. I'm not recommending practices be avoided. Rather, practices cannot cause awakening. Nothing causes something else, things are their own cause and result. If you follow a spiritual practice, do it for its own sake, because you enjoy it. Otherwise, you are standing in your own way.

Also: "Just BE-ing" isn't a path or a spiritual practice. It is just sitting there, period, a non-practice, a non-path. This is exactly why it can be helpful ;-).


Omkaradatta | Sat, 10/25/2008 - 07:03
Phroggy's picture

No wear on the hiking boots

Yeah, the best meditation is to sit and do absolutely nothing for absolutely no reason. Hehe.

Maybe what we could say about the path is that it doesn't go anywhere, and in that sense there is no path. However, there is a lot of ignorance to be disposed of, a heavy backpack to be dropped and maybe the bugs can be cleaned off the glasses.

Phroggy | Sat, 10/25/2008 - 19:15
madan_gautam's picture

Awakening & Awakened

There is much difference in awakening and awakened state.
awakening is just starting point towards awakened state from sleeping state & for awakening you need a definite path.One has to choose and follow that path among the thousands available.In process of awakening one can again go to sleeping state if the seeker does not follow that path.
Awakened state is result of awakening process and at the peek of awakening he has to wait there for the state of Awakened(for being Awakened/Enlightened) as at that point it requires no path just patience and GRACE only.Then there is no return from that point.After reaching to Awakened state,its one's outlook how he define that state,the state with a path or without a path.But actually no one has achieved Awakened sate without following a specified path,even Buddha followed it,Mahavira followed it and all Enlightened ONE including Krishnamurti followed any one of the path for awakening & at the last step they just waited there to happen the Enlightenment(State of Awakened)& that comes with GRACE,without further efforts& further path,as that state is just happening.If for that happening one say that no path is required ,then it is misleading one for the seekers,one has to follow the path and at the peak,Enlightenment comes in a way of happening.The state of Awakened is happening and state of awakening requires path.

madan_gautam | Mon, 10/27/2008 - 11:58
Omkaradatta's picture


Why are you so anxious to declare a path?

Sri Ramana Maharshi awakened as a child, and AFAIK there was no path -- it just happened. Life itself is the path.


Omkaradatta | Mon, 10/27/2008 - 23:23
madan_gautam's picture


Do you know Ramana Maharishi was at the peek of Awakening in HIS past life & HE followed the path in HIS last Birth and was just waiting for Enlightenment to happen in this birth, same case was with OSHO and with every one who got Enlightened in their life without any path.
Why you are worried with my truth my dear brother.
The people who used to visit Krishnamurti were never able to understand HIM and were in total confusion up to the end,then what is use of such TRUTH? It was due to HIS non path theory. One should be given simple and approachable approach.
If you have done your doctorate & you have to guide the primary classes,then you have to be at their stranded only then they will be able to do their doctorate by time otherwise they will leave it in between.Give the path to new seekers & by the time they will find their TRUTH them selves.
We can only show the path and rest about TRUTH,no one can give it to any body,each one has to find his/her truth by own.
And last if life is itself a path then each and every one should be enlightened one,then why are we here to guide them and why they are here to seek it.


madan_gautam | Tue, 10/28/2008 - 10:41
Phroggy's picture


Krishnamurti had a dedicated following and even today his influence is very strong, in spite of the fact that he kept telling people to go away, he had nothing to teach. He told them to disregard all teachers and teachings, and yet he has been helpful to many, including me. He didn't offer anyone practices or lead anyone down a merry path or tell them that they could take even a single step toward Truth, that nothing at all could be done.

I appreciate his integrity and I've come to see he's absolutely right. There is no path and no teaching can help and nobody ever gets closer to what they're looking for. Every step is a step away. This WAS his teaching.

The fact that nobody was ever able to really understand K is a testament to his teaching rather than a fault. Is there something to understand? The fact that his followers were left confused tells me that a door was left ajar and that he didn't fill people's heads full of useless knowledge but rather threw everything they thought they did know into doubt. I see great wisdom in this while all you see is somebody who can't get others to mentally understand Truth and make it something they find useful. It's not useful.

Phroggy | Tue, 10/28/2008 - 19:49
Omkaradatta's picture

Simple and approachable approach

Name somebody who became enlightened by following some simple, approachable recipe.


Omkaradatta | Tue, 10/28/2008 - 20:20
Phroggy's picture


This 'right path' nonsense is the same sort of thing that happens in all religions. 'My religion is the right way and all others are lost sheeple'.

Phroggy | Tue, 10/28/2008 - 21:08
Omkaradatta's picture


There may be a few folks (e.g. Nisargadatta) who trusted their guru absolutely, followed some simple thing like 'just BE' and realized the Self, but for how many people will this be applicable, particularly in this day and age? There is no general purpose path for everyone, no simple and approachable recipe. The ancient teachings are fully available to anyone who wants to look at them, whoever is interested. If someone wants to follow a recipe, they can follow it, and if they're sincere/earnest they'll get the fruits. I'd recommend viveka/vairagya (discrimination and dispassion / unattachment) myself, which also is a 'non-path' that simply involves noticing things, while refraining from getting attached.


Omkaradatta | Tue, 10/28/2008 - 21:33
shond's picture

also mentioned in vipassana

Goenka says in vipassana that after you observe a sensation, do not concentrate there in the observation until the sensation vanishes but continue to other parts. After the sensation is brought to the surface of the "awareness ocean" it will flushed wih the waves by its own, trust your subconcious intelligence to take care of it after you brought it to the light of awareness and go on wuth your observation.
Otherwise you give it strenght by the observation itself.

The observation weakens the sensation but the same observation can also strenghten it if not used properly.

shond | Sun, 10/19/2008 - 17:58
Phroggy's picture

Catch and release theory

Yes, the goal is simply to be aware; to end unconsciousness. Once something is clearly seen, it's already done in the seeing. There's a tendency to think we have to fix it or do something with it or watch it till it goes (which it won't do as long as we're watching). Illusion dissolves in the light of awareness.

Phroggy | Sun, 10/19/2008 - 18:51
enlight's picture

Excellent post I must say.

Excellent post I must say. Very good depiction of a popular pitfall and therefore a great service in warning about it.

Some on earth are extremely lucky to have the opportunity to learn to observe but their observation is contaminated with resistance so the scope they can observe is limited.

And then they discover acceptance and they observe and accept and become familiar with the ability of living side by side with the troubles, with the pain that does not turn anymore into suffering and so is not a problem anymore. And this is a big achievement.

But then they notice that some of their pains not only that they do not disappear, they even grow stronger. Strange! Very few get the understanding that not deliberately, they have developed nostalgic attachment to some of their familiar pains, that the pain should be accepted and observed briefly up to the moment when the pain itself is signaling that it is ready to go.

One needs an external independant metronome to process the line of mental pains, something like the moving production line in that Charlie Chaplin movie. The breathing can indeed serve for this purpose.

enlight | Tue, 11/25/2008 - 23:45
dhorai's picture

hai mika good post for cure but!

only one who dwells can really experience and one who experiences alone transcend truly and can save souls....
crores of case studies exist....
but remember
the mooon stone diver must dweel deep to find high valued stones so many case stories exist ...
with due appreciation to ur post...
if u apply ur words practically....
its like wearing white dress and fearing that it will get dirty life has more lessons than it...
see ur oppsite side for more realisation....
u should say observe see discriminate before u dwell .....
ur dweeling must be to innovate to save lifes etc...
with love

dhorai | Thu, 12/25/2008 - 22:26
mika's picture

this is excatly the mistake!

No, this is exactly the misfortunate mistake! There is nothing to dwell in, trust some other unconscious intelligence that will do the dirty job without "you" needing to spend more attention on observing and move on.

mika | Fri, 12/26/2008 - 22:46
Phroggy's picture


I agree. Observe (realize, become aware) and move on. To dwell is to enegize mind's plan to fix and to reinforce the focus. But there is no other intelligence at work. There is only Awareness, and once you are aware, there is nothing to be done, and nothing more needed.Illusions cannot survive in the light of truth.

Phroggy | Thu, 01/29/2009 - 01:12
madan_gautam's picture

Truth & Awareness

The Awareness is just first step of Truth, The Truth is much more vast and much more beyond than just Awareness.

madan_gautam | Thu, 01/29/2009 - 13:07
Phroggy's picture

Relative vs Absolute

Yes, I was referring to relative truth, as does the OP. This can mean noticing supressed feelings or unconscious motivations, and it can also mean realizing the futility of seeking permanence or the truth of nonvolition or that one is not the body, and so on. This is not Truth realization, but it's very important in that it leads to living consciously and can make one 'accident prone' when it comes to 'Awakening'.

Phroggy | Thu, 01/29/2009 - 19:41
Phroggy's picture


To me, Awareness IS Truth, not a step to Truth. The reason I say awareness is all that can be 'done' is that since you are Awareness, being aware is all there is, which for the mind may translate into paying atention. I'm not saying being aware is the Truth.

Phroggy | Sun, 04/05/2009 - 00:39
Luna's picture

You are right

Insightful observation. Thanks!

Luna | Wed, 01/28/2009 - 21:55
salamtak's picture

the mischievous mind

Excellent piece. I also fell in this trap of dwelling in the object of awareness and thus only empowering it. It took me a long time to discover this trap.

With time, one discovers how tricky the mind is (I see in some of the above comments themselves typical tricks which are very easy to notice like the over-usage of logic and analysis) but being open to the advises of others (not necessarily accepting them automatically) proves efficient in mastering the art of awareness.

Always question what you are mostly confident in and everything will be ok.

salamtak | Sat, 04/04/2009 - 17:40
alon's picture

Excellent post

Excellent post, thank u.

This is no doubt the top formula for advancement. After so many yaers in the spirituality realm, I have no slightest doubt that all sums up to ACCEPT, OBSERVE and then LET GO.

alon | Mon, 02/07/2011 - 20:27
MAI's picture


Acceptance and non-entaglement.
The "let go" happens spontaneously.


MAI | Wed, 06/13/2012 - 03:44